Top 10 Most Shameless TV Product Placements



Top 10 Most Shameless TV Product Placements

Written by Nick Spake

This is what happens when shows and commercials procreate together. Welcome to and today we'll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Shameless TV Product Placements.

For this list, we're taking a look at cases of embedded marketing where TV shows shoved a product in the audience's face without an ounce of subtlety.
This is what happens when shows and commercials procreate together. Welcome to and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Shameless TV Product Placements.

For this list, we’re taking a look at cases of embedded marketing where TV shows shoved a product in the audience’s face without an ounce of subtlety.

#10: CoverGirl

“Riverdale” (2017-)

There’s a reason why the ladies of “Riverdale” always look like they’re ready for a photoshoot. CoverGirl is one of the show’s most prominent sponsors with their cosmetics constantly popping up. The third episode even features a scene where Betty tries on Seduce Scarlet lipstick to signify her transition into a bad girl. As if that’s not blatant enough, her controlling mother suggests using Pink Perfection instead. In another episode, the camera actually shifts away from Josie to give us a totally unnecessary close-up on a bottle of eye mascara. This product placement couldn’t be more “in-your-face” if a CoverGirl sales rep literally reached out of the television and gave you a free beauty sample.

#9: Ziploc

“The Biggest Loser” (2004-)

According to a 2008 Nielsen Media Research report, “The Biggest Loser” had more product placement than any other broadcast show with over 6,000 plugs. Where some of the products at least tied into this reality show’s weight loss theme, others came off as unbelievably forced, Ziploc being the most infamous example. Bob Harper and the contestants laughably explain how Ziploc containers work, as if the audience really needed a tutorial. They additionally note that Ziploc is great for carrying 100-calorie snacks. Here’s the thing, though: many 100-calorie snacks already come in travel-friendly pouches, making Ziploc pointless here. On top of that, a piece of cake can fit inside a Ziploc container just as easily!

#8: Various

“Days of Our Lives” (1965-)

Soap manufacturers actually helped coin the term, “soap opera,” as they used to sponsor radio dramas. While product placement has always been a staple of daytime television, “Days of Our Lives” took things to a new low around 2009-2010, promoting everything from Chex Mix to Wanchai Ferry Chinese food. On multiple occasions, characters also stopped to talk about the health benefits and delicious taste of Cheerios. Seriously, how can the audience get caught up in all the melodrama when people are flirting over a box of breakfast cereal? Stephen Colbert even poked fun at the lack of subtlety here, suggesting that the long-running series was desperate for money after several other soaps got cancelled.

#7: Ford Fusion

“New Girl” (2011-18)

This vehicle has been featured on “New Girl” so many times that it’s practically a recurring character. On one occasion, Outside Dave complements Coach on his new Ford Fusion. Another episode takes place at an auto show where a 2013 Ford Fusion is displayed. Granted, this does amount to a pretty hilarious bit of slapstick as Jess tries to navigate around a rotating platform in high heels. It’s hard to get past the announcer listing off all of the car’s features, though. There was also that time when Coach compared the Ford Fusion to a limousine. It’s worth mentioning that the latter episode premiered after the Super Bowl, which is practically synonymous with car commercials.

#6: McDonald’s

“The Bachelor” (2002-)

In a Season 20 episode of this reality show, bachelor Ben takes Amanda on a romantic date to McDonald’s. Yeah, because nothing screams eternal love quite like Mickey D’s. Ben claims that he wants to do something normal while visiting his hometown, but he’s not fooling anyone. Product placement is clearly at work here, reminding viewers that McDonald’s serves breakfast all-day now. So feel free to have an Egg McMuffin for dinner. The couple also gets behind the counter and operates the drive thru window… because the only thing more glamorous than eating at McDonald’s is working at McDonald’s… while on a date! Who needs caviar and champagne when you can just share a fry?

#5: PlayStation Vita

“House of Cards” (2013-)

This Netflix series is no stranger to product placement, often showcasing Apple devices. However, the most obvious plug occurred in Season One as Frank Underwood pays Peter Russo a visit. Before they get down to business, Frank takes notice in Peter’s PS Vita and very blatantly asks him about it. To be fair, it’s been established that Frank likes to play video games, so it makes sense that he’d take an interest in this handheld console. However, that doesn’t excuse the fact that this moment comes out of nowhere, has no bearing on the plot, and basically feels like a drive-by advertisement. We wouldn’t be surprised if Sony funded Frank’s reelection campaign.

#4: Microsoft Surface

“90210” (2008-13)

As much as we complain about product placement, embedded marketing doesn’t have to come off as forced. Since people are constantly on tablet computers in real life, television writers can very naturally work a product like the Microsoft Surface into a scene without cramming it down our throats. Unfortunately, this episode of “90210” takes a more direct approach, hammering home how amazing the device is. When the camera isn’t zooming in on the touchscreen, the characters are talking about the tablet’s many features. Hell, some of the features they prattle on about aren’t even that impressive. Skype might’ve been innovative ten years ago, but videotelephony is commonplace now. The gift of Skype isn’t worth much!

#3: Stride Gum

“Smallville” (2001-11)

The IHOP battle from “Man of Steel” isn’t the only time Superman has been associated with shameless product placement. In its seventh and arguably worst season, “Smallville” basically dedicated an entire episode to Stride Gum. The brand name is plastered everywhere; one sequence actually takes place in a Stride Gum factory. At the center of everything is a ridiculous storyline where kryptonite-laced gum turns Pete Ross into a stretchy meteor freak. Not only is this false advertising, but it doesn’t even portray Stride in a positive light since Pete caused numerous problems with his new powers. Speaking of Pete, this was his last appearance on the show, sending him off on the weakest note possible.

#2: Toyota

“Bones” (2005-17)

The Deschanel family is well-versed on the subject of product placement. Where Zooey plugged the Ford Fusion on “New Girl,” Emily has acted as a spokesperson for Toyota on “Bones.” In a particularly distracting instance, the plot is put on hold so Bones can demonstrate her car’s intelligent parking assist. Sure, it’s a cool feature for those who never learned how to parallel park, but Booth and Sweets act as if they just met KITT from “Knight Rider.” In another episode, Angela swerves off course to discuss the Toyota Sienna and its backup camera, which she literally calls “the invention of the century.” There’s praising a product and then there’s building it up as the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a couple of dishonorable mentions:


“Heroes” (2006-10)

Johnnie Walker

“The West Wing” (1999-2006)

#1: Subway

“Hawaii Five-0” (2010-)

Subway sandwiches have been needlessly inserted into a lot of movies and TV shows. This episode of “Hawaii Five-0” went beyond subliminal advertising, however, essentially becoming a full-blown commercial for Subway. Actually, the scene is almost long enough to fill an ad spot. Chowing down on a foot-long, Kamekona endorses Subway for offering such varied menu items. He also notes what a healthy choice Subway is, although we’re not sure eating five foot-longs is the most effective diet. Worst of all, Kamekona briefly mentions Jared Fogle and his extreme weight loss. As if the shameless product placement didn’t already make things awkward enough, Jared’s later legal troubles only add to this scene’s uncomfortable nature.